This blog is my attempt to reconnect with the world of chemistry. I have a PhD in Inorganic Chemistry and make a living doing research for a large company in Michigan. As times have changed, that company has changed its focus and I no longer have as much chance to do the basic, fundamental research which I most enjoy. Through this blog, I am hoping to recapture the magic which I felt during my graduate (and undergraduate) days in college. Expect topics on chemistry and alchemy along with some non-chemistry related items which I think might be interesting.

"The chymists are a strange class of mortals, impelled by an almost insane impulse to seek their pleasure among smoke and vapour, soot and flame, poisons and poverty; yet among all these evils I seem to live so sweetly that may I die if I would change places with the Persian King."

Johann Joachim Becher (phlogistonist)
Acta Laboratorii Chymica Monacensis, seu Physica Subterranea, (1669).

Friday, July 25, 2008


Well, we finally broke down and bought a Nintendo Wii last weekend. "Broke down" probably isn't the most accurate description since everyone in the family has wanted one since last Christmas. It's just that we had originally planned to wait until the fall. But my wife discovered that a supply had arrived at the local Target and so I was dispatched to grab one before they disappeared. This is our first game console. I spend all my gaming time playing on the PC, in part because I really don't like gamepads. I'll take a mouse/keyboard combo everytime (old school?). But I think the Wii might be a good way for me to become proficient with a gamepad.

Anyway, the kids love it. And my six year old son quickly discovered you don't have to be near the TV to play. The sensor system can pick up the signals from the Wiimote all over our house, so he runs around various rooms throughout the house playing games like "bowling" with no video feedback. It's a little disheartening to watch him get a strike when he's somewhere in the basement while you're standing right there in front of the TV and still haven't gotten a strike all game. Annoyingly, he actually has the nerve to get upset when he loses the game. Oh well, in the meantime, I'll be looking for some good chemistry-based games.


Egon Willighagen said...

Please do blog about it when you find something chemistry related!

timvdm said...

While I don't know of any chemistry related wii games, I do know the wii remote is a fun gadget to play with.

For example, you can do headtacking as shown in this video:

If you want to try this in a chemistry application, you might want to take a look at Avogadro ( or Zodiac ( If you do, please note that the wii head tracking code in Avogadro is experimental and it will probably not compile "out-of-the-box"...

The Chemist said...

I have a cousin who does communications engineering, but likes to program on the side. He especially likes game programming.

If you want, I can ask him if he'd be interested in whipping something up with me. It sounds like fun, and I'm thinking of something involving spectral lines and energy levels. Something that'll get you to break a sweat and teach basic chem at the same time.

It's just an idea in the nether though, so anyone else who wants to give it a shot can steal it.

Chemist Ken said...

Chemist, game programming is certainly great fun. Late last year I was playing around with XNA, Microsoft's game programming language for C#. But I have so many things going on these days that I haven't touched it this year at all, even those my kids are begging me to continue the rather lame shooter I had started while teaching myself C#.

Spectral lines and energy levels do sound interesting as a game concept. I can imagine a platformer game where you have to jump between energy levels and you have the ability to effect the heights of those energy levels by various means. Magnetic fields to split degenerate orbitals, adding ligands to split d orbitals, etc. Anything to raise or lower the energy levels as needed.